County & District Councillor’s October Report

The Harvest Festival Season is over – with great effort being put in at all our villages to mark the event in their different ways. The days of our churches being packed by those who worked on the land, or supported those who did, are over but the old festivals have much to offer those who have come to live in our villages, they are still an important part of binding our communities together.

By the time you read this we will be well on the way to Advent and Christmas and the village celebrations which go with that. In Sturminster Newton we are working towards the switch on of the Christmas Lights on the tree on the 2nd December, as part of our Christmas celebration with a Producers Market in the streets and Craft Market at the Exchange, Lantern Parade, Choir and of course Father Christmas and his Elf (who bears a striking resemblance to a well-known local solicitor) in their Grotto. Unfortunately there will be no garlands across the street this year, not because of “elfin safety” but because of the costs of public liability insurance when the garlands have to be strung from old buildings. As I said in my last “blog” simply to satisfy the insurance company by doing a professional “stress test” will cost towards £800 and have to be redone every three years. So no garlands of lights. In compensation we will be having the usual big tree, small trees on the buildings and an Advent Calendar of Decorated Windows.

The trouble with any of these town events is raising the money to run them, insurance and road closure notices being a large part of the cost. They are not something charities will fund, or grants pay for in total, nor can the Town Council afford to pay for them. The sort of events I mean are the Christmas event, having more flowers in the town in the summer, painting the railings and similar street furniture around the town to keep it looking nice, publicising the town. A small group of us in Sturminster are considering the possibility of running a community shop specifically to help pay for such activities. We plan a shop selling good quality items including local craft work and perhaps clothes on an agency basis. We are fortunate to have a successful local retailer as a Project Team Member and advisor. We also plan renting facilities to charities and organisations who may want some desk space or a meeting room. It may also be possible to have a cash dispenser although another one is about to go into town at the former Barclays building.

Sadly our last remaining bank, Lloyds closed at the end of September but they are sending a mobile bank to the Library Carpark on three days of the week (12.30 to 15.15 on Mondays and Fridays and 9.30 to 11.30 on Wednesdays, with NatWest also sending a mobile on Friday mornings to the Station Road Car Park. The mobiles appear to be well used. The post office is also working hard to fill the void left by the loss of Banks, and offers private customers the opportunity to draw out and pay in money. Of course where there are post offices in the villages they are also able to offer those facilities. The people who are finding it hardest to adapt to the loss of the Banks are the businesses who either take large quantities of cash or need cash, although I notice that some are being mutually supportive.

I spent an interesting afternoon with young people from across Dorset at the recent Youth Voice Summit Event. The event was organised by the Youth Council and aimed to identify what the main local issues are which worry our young people and to give them the tools to influence those issues. The main problem raised by all ages was that of transport in our rural area or rather the lack of public transport, for which there is no easy answer. The would-be users of transport in the rural area are of all ages, tend to be spread over wide areas and have a variety of needs which cannot be met by bus services in the way that they can in urban areas. Community transport tends to be seen as only for old people but there is no reason younger people cannot hire buses from our local community transport scheme, Nordcat, providing they can raise the funds – it needs a bit of creative thinking. Another partial solution is sharing transport whenever possible. For those over 16 who have sufficient money the Wheels to Work Scheme enables them to pay a monthly sum to buy a moped or motor bike and the necessary kit, insure it and ultimately to own it. Details can be obtained from the SturQuest Office.

Finally a plea to any former pupils of Lord Digby’s School, Sherborne which gave way to the Gryphon School in 1992. Next year will be 100 years since the Old Girls Association was founded and we are planning an extra special Founders Day Service at the Abbey on 12th May, 2.30 p.m. followed by a Reunion Tea at the Eastbury Hotel. Anyone is welcome to the Abbey and indeed to the Eastbury, but the latter needs to be booked in advance and I fear we will have to put a limit on numbers. The Founders Day Service is shared with the Old Fosterians. I know a number of year groups are planning their own reunions to coincide with that weekend. We will be producing a special edition of the Old Girls Association Magazine for May and are looking for people’s own stories about their time at the school. We are also trying to do a history of the uniform through the ages – any contributions welcome. So if you went to Lord Digby’s and you want to know more please get in touch with me – friends and family also welcome.

Surgeries in November
Saturday 4th 9.30 a.m. – Glanvilles Wootton Village Hall; 10.30 a.m. Pulham Village Hall; 11.30 The Exchange, Sturminster Newton.
Saturday 11th 10.30 a.m. Hilton Coffee Morning
Saturday 18th – 9.30 a.m. Hazelbury Bryan Village Hall; 10.45 a.m. Okeford Fitzpaine Village Hall
Preferred e.mail address – cllr.p.batstone@btinternet.com
Phone 01258 472583
Post – Elvlyn Cottage, Glue Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2DJ
Twitter @paulinebatstone Facebook Page Councillor Pauline Batstone

Music for a Summer’s Evening – Sunday 17th September

The very charismatic violinist, Andrew Bernardi, Sally Clarke’s brother-in-law, very generously offered to come down from West Sussex to play his Stradivarius to help raise much needed funds for our church. The date was set, posters printed, leaflets delivered and adverts placed and what a response we got. The concert was completely sold out with people sitting in every available space. As someone remarked “so lovely to see the church full other than for a funeral or a wedding”! The pieces Andrew played included J.S. Bach movements from the “Sonatas and Partitias for unaccompanied violin”, Sir Edward Elgar’s “Salut d’Amore”, Fritz Krielser’s “Prelude and Allegro” and Ralph Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending”. Accompanying him quite beautifully on piano was Amanda Slogrove from Sherborne.

Andrew had been quite happy to play for the entire evening but the committee thought that a pure violin concert may be a little too much for some so we search around for a singer/choir. How lucky were we find Amelia Kelly-Slogrove who, at only 15 years old, has a wonderful voice. Her pieces included Henry Purcell’s “If Music be the food of Love”, “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess. Amelia is currently studying for her GCSEs at The Gryphon School in Sherborne and is planning to audition for the National Youth Choir of Great Britain in November so we wish her all the best for her future music career.

During the interval we were treated to a glass of Prosecco from Waitrose (they did us a good deal!).

We cannot begin to thank Andrew enough for not only performing so brilliantly but for all his advice and support in the lead up to the concert. Finally I would like to thank the committee of Richard Clarke, Pat Harris, Lucy Parrott and Louise Sandy who worked so hard to make this such a success and put up with me being rather bossy!

BV County Councillor’s Report on September

September is the month most of us associate with that feeling of going back to school, freedom, warm days and long light evenings over….. That is certainly what it feels like in local government. August was a busy month as far as I was concerned, but at least there are fewer formal District and County Council meetings. But now the pressure is back on……

The budget setting process for 2017-18 has started. At Sturminster Newton Town Council we are embarking on a Business Plan, in order to prioritise our expenditure and explain ourselves, we hope, more clearly to the electorate. The big problem is how do you fund the things you need to do for the sake of the town but cannot justify raising Council Tax to do it. We are well into worrying about the Christmas lights and how these are to be funded for the next three years. Local businesses are being very generous as is Liz Whittingham who has been working hard to run the monthly Craft Markets at The Exchange, any profit from which goes towards the Christmas lights. We will not have strings of lights across the street in Stur. this year as it would cost around £800 just to get the fixings stress tested and replaced if necessary, because otherwise we would not be insured. That has to be done every three years….so no strings of lights across the road. We will have our big Christmas tree and the traders will have their trees and lights so all should be well. The Christmas Lights switch on will be on the afternoon of the 2nd December with a children’s lantern parade, High School Choir and Father Christmas’s grotto.

Another important but not essential expenditure was the painting of the railings coming into Stur across the Town Bridge. Thanks to the efforts of generous donors, Community Payback, and our Grounds Manager plus three councillors the task has been three-quarters completed. The most difficult section is the last quarter, which is the dirtiest, most vulnerable as far as traffic is concerned. and has just had a tree fall on it. We had hoped to finish it in time for the Cheese Festival but that did not happen. Maybe we can finish it in time for Christmas.

The Cheese Festival in Stur. was a success in spite of the inclement weather. Although numbers attending was down the retailers appear to have been satisfied by the amount of trade as those who did come bought goods. Any surplus will go to The Cheese Festival Changing Young Lives Fund. The fund aims to provide substantial financial support to young adults to enable them to undertake activities which they would otherwise be unable to and from which they will gain experiences which will be of radical benefit in their future lives.

At the point of writing this report we still do not know if the government is minded to allow the County and District Councils of Dorset to merge as one Unitary Authority. The uncertainty makes financial planning very difficult. All councils know they will have reducing amounts of money coming from central government over the next two years, until revenue support grant ceases in 2020. There after they are reliant on Council Tax, Business Rate and any revenue they can earn. Council Tax rises have been capped at 1.9% and Business Rates do not bring us in a great deal locally, however hard done by the businesses feel. The money goes to central government and is redistributed across council’s according to need. I have been attending Dorset Councils Partnership meetings looking at how we may operate more commercially to earn income. In Weymouth the Council already has a considerable portfolio of hotels. West Dorset has seaside car parks which bring in considerable sums. North Dorset District Council has very few assets and certainly none which are going to make much of a contribution to our income – only the car parks and we are not allowed to make a profit on those beyond the cost of running them. We did look at the possibility of putting a crematorium on the Nordon Office side but that was ruled out as not being a good business case.

Sturminster Newton has now lodged its Neighbourhood Plan with the District Council who will send it to a planning Inspector for examination. The hope is that this will give the town some control over developer applications. The District has a Local Plan, which sits above the Neighbourhood Plan but this has now been undermined because the District is reckoned no longer to have a five year land supply for housebuilding. Although a number of planning applications have been approved, developers have not built as yet and it is therefore reckoned that if permissions are not built on within a period of time, three years, the land does not count in the land supply (totally illogical it seems to me as the land is still there to be built on). The reality of this is that the Countryside policy of the Local Plan, which did not permit housebuilding in the smaller villages except in certain limited circumstances, no longer applies. Our villages are therefore much more vulnerable to development although a Neighbourhood Plan, once approved, does give some control.

Surgeries in October:
Saturday 7th October 9.30 a.m. – Glanvilles Wootton Village Hall; 10.30 a.m. Pulham Village Hall; 11.30 The Exchange, Sturminster Newton.
Saturday 14th October 10.30 Hilton Chuch Coffee Morning; 11.15 p.m. Okeford Fitzpaine Mud Pie Cafe
Saturday, 21st October 9.30 a.m. Hazelbury Bryan Village Hall;
Preferred e.mail address – cllr.p.batstone@btinternet.com
Phone 01258 472583
Post – Elvlyn Cottage, Glue Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2DJ
Twitter @paulinebatstone Facebook Page Councillor Pauline Batstone

County & District Councillor’s August Report

August is supposed to be a quiet month in the world of local authorities with few committee meetings but it never quite works out that way.   It is a time for working on much more local issues  like our ongoing concerns about our local roads.

The worst road in our area in terms of damaged surface is Marsh Lane which runs from Hazelbury Bryan through to Stoke Wake.   I have been nagging Highways for a date when the promised resurfacing will take place.   I now understand that this is unlikely until next year as it needs a major work-over which will cost just short of £250,000.   Although a country lane it is a road which actually forms part of an important rat-run down to jobs in Poole and Bournemouth via the top of Bulbarrow.   It also receives a considerable hammering from heavy farm vehicles.   I have just been reading a letter from a now retired Councillor colleague published in the Blackmore Vale Magazine calling for all heavy vehicles to be banned in the country.   Interesting to see how she might believe that could be accomplished as the countryside is not just a suburb, it is a working industrial site in many ways, and even suburbs have to have large delivery vehicles from time to time.

Just after the County election in May the Highway’s Department reallocated responsibility for highways in my Division to a gentleman called Paul Starkey, who is our new Community Highways Officer.   Paul is has a lot of experience of working on Highways and also of using our local roads.   He is steadily making himself known around the patch and when you report a roads issue on dorsetforyou or via a phone call to County Hall, that report immediately appears on Paul’s iPad for attention.   In reality repairs have to be prioritised according to seriousness but the team do endeavour to sort matters out as quickly as possible.  Overgrown pavements,  footpaths and verges, flooded drains and other problems can also be reported via dorsetforyou or by phone.

I have just been reading an article about yet another initiative of the Prince of Wales.  A charity established by Prince Charles has unveiled over £540,000 of grants to 18 new rural projects.

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is supporting community shops in Crowle, Beckbury, Trawden and Great Paxton.   Funding has also been awarded to Pub is the Hub, and the Bird in Bush pub in Northumberland National Park.  Other grants include funding for training projects in Suffolk and Cornwall, and to support the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue.    Established by the Prince of Wales in 2010, the fund has given over £8.5 million in grants to improve the quality of rural life over the past seven years.   It is something which could merit closer consideration in our rural area.

A reminder of what I said in my last report – although the bus companies have lost the subsidy for some rural routes, and therefore decided to discontinue them, Nordcat is open for business and looking to replace some of those services with a more personal one.   As a Community Transport organisation it is not generally able to put on daily public bus services but is running weekly services to Dorchester, Sherborne and Yeovil from the rural villages.   Nordat  also prepared to consider other services to other towns if there is sufficient support.   Nordcat’s Manager is Helen Reed on 01258 472164 or 01258 473154.   Journeys have to be booked in advance with Helen  because the bus will pick you up at your door.   Pensioners bus passes are accepted but it costs £5 to register with the scheme each year.

Anyone driving into Stur. will hopefully have noticed that we have almost finished the repainting of the railings along the A357 and in Bridge Street.   The work completed so far has been undertaken by Community Payback (CP), a scheme whereby offenders make reparation to the community by giving their labour.   We have now reached the point where CP can do no more because of health and safety constraints so the remaining work will be undertaken by we Town Councillors and any other volunteers we can find.   We still have to ensure we are safe because a by-election would cost a lot of money.   The aim is to get the project completed before the Cheese Fair brings thousands of people into town.   Our shops have also been smartened up by their owners and tenants and we are trying to encourage  more interesting window displays in some of them – maybe we should do a competition.

I have been trying to do my bit to encourage people to come and explore our beautiful countryside by taking long walks on most days, taking photographs of our lovely scenery as I go and putting them on my Councillor’s facebook page.   To my amazement some walks have had over 500 people look at them and have been commented on from people as far away as New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

The North Dorset Business Park at Rolls Mill, on the Lydlinch side of Stur. is now in private ownership, the last of the plots having been bought by Rose Engineering who plan to encourage a range of businesses to come and occupy buildings which Roses will design and build for them.  These businesses need to be ones which provide employment and an ambition is to have a prestige Enterprise Centre on the front side, offering office space to predominantly digital enterprises, in other words people who earn their living from computers.   In North Dorset there are 9000 or so businesses but many of these are one-man operations, based at home.   The Enterprise Centre, and other buildings on the estate will offer space for those who want to grow.   We, the Economy Board of Sturminster Newton, are also considering how we can offer serviced office space to small businesses in Sturminster itself, possibly using one of the former bank buildings.

Surgeries in September:

Saturday  2nd September 9.30 a.m. –  Glanvilles Wootton Village Hall;  10.30 a.m. Pulham Village Hall;  11.30 The Exchange, Sturminster Newton.

Saturday, 16th September 9.30 a.m. Hazelbury Bryan Village Hall;  10.45  a.m. Okeford Fitzpaine Village

Preferred e.mail address – cllr.p.batstone@btinternet.com

Phone 01258 472583

Post – Elvlyn Cottage, Glue Hill, Sturminster Newton, Dorset, DT10 2DJ

Twitter @paulinebatstone   Facebook Page Councillor Pauline Batstone

Road Closures

Temporary closure of the C73 road (Stock Hill Lane) at Proctors Bridge, Holwell

Work to repair and strengthen Proctors bridge is planned to start on 30 October 2017.

The scheme is part of our programme of maintenance works to the county’s bridges and culverts.

To enable the work to be carried out safely it is proposed that the road at the bridge will be closed to vehicles.  The road closure to vehicles will be in place 24 hours per day from 30 October 2017 to  24 November 2017.  Temporary measures will be put in place to allow pedestrians and cyclists through the closure.

If there is anything you wish to discuss or have any concerns you would like considered, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Alternatively, in my absence please contact my team leader John Burridge, Tel. 01305 225366,  Email: j.burridge@dorsetcc.gov.uk

Village Barbecue

After having been postponed by poor weather, the barbecue at the village hall held on Sunday 23rd July was a great success with many people joining in the fun. Welly throwing, skittles and horse-shoe tossing were just some of the activities taking place. The Sherborne branch of Waitrose very kindly contributed burgers and sausages for the event.

For Sale

Michelle McCullagh kindly drew this sketch of our lovely church so that we could raise much needed funds for the church through the sale of postcards and notelets.  If you would like to purchase any of these, please contact Annie Dove on 01300 345450.  Postcards are 50p each and the notelets (including envelopes) are £1 each or 5 for £4.  There will also be some for sale in the church.  We would like to thank Michelle for allowing us to sell the original in the silent auction at the fête.

 

Proposed Road Closures

SUNDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER 2017

Click here for full details.

Temporary road closures will be in place on IRONMAN 70.3 Weymouth race day (Sunday 17th September 2017) to ensure the safety of athletes and the public. These legal road closures are implemented under the Road Traffic Regulation (Special Events) Act 1994, and apply to all vehicles and bikes that are not involved in the event.

Holwell, Glanvilles Wootton, Middlemarsh

The bike course follows Holwell Road onto Holwell Drove, Stock Hill Lane, Park Lane and Kennels Lane heading southbound down the C12.

Access Advice:

08:00 – 12:30   Holwell Road, Holwell Drove, Stock Hill Lane, Park Lane and Kennels Lane FULLY CLOSED.

12:00   B3143 re-opens for eastbound access.